Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Hellgate 2018: Thoughts from a First-Timer

I haven’t written a race report since Bighorn 100 this summer, but I’ve done a little racing since then. I did High Bridge 50K in October looking to see if I could get the legs moving for a fast 50 K. I’m still chasing a sub 4 hour 50K (I hit 4:00:58 at New River Trail a few years ago). High Bridge didn’t work out. I had to settle for 4:17, which was good for 5th overall. 

I parlayed that fitness into a solid day at JFK 50 miler in November. I thought I might be able to sub 8 there, but I couldn’t find the turnover on the tow path, and settled for 8:39. This was a good time at an iconic race. But, it wasn’t the complete day I was hoping to have. That’s OK. This is what I love about running ultras: Chasing dreams and learning about how to get better.  

My work year allowed me one more opportunity to see what my legs could do in 2018. David Horton accepted my application for Hellgate this year, so I was pumped to toe the line at this “special race” for the first time. To be honest, I had no idea what kind of time was realistic, but I decided to shoot for Sub 14 hours. 

Here’s the story about what happened. 

Side Note: If you want the BEST info to prep for this race, check out Aaron Schwartzbard’s blog

Racing Hellgate for the First Time: 

I’ll skip all the normal preparation talk other than to say that I tried to get some sleep after I dropped PT off at daycare Friday morning. What you need to know here is that Hellgate starts at 12:01 am. That means most folks arrive at the start after already being awake all day. That was essentially the case for me. I managed to get about 45 minutes of sleep before Josh came to pick me up Friday afternoon. We grabbed Sean and headed to Camp Bethel for packet pick up  and the race brief. Once all the niceties were out of the way, Josh, Sean, Ryan, and I drove to the start to try to catch a couple of ZZZs before the 12:01 am start. 

The energy at the start line was electric. The race really did feel special from the start. I gave Jordy, Hannah, Jonathan, and Darren a quick high five and said: See ya at the finish. Then, I walked back to my spot with Chris Miller, Ryan, and Sean a couple of rows back. 

We sang the National Anthem and O Holy Night before Horton said GO!

And off into the cold night we went. 

It was cold.

As far as Hellgate weather goes we were really lucky. It was a clear and beautiful night. No rain, no snow falling, and very little wind. But, it was cold. I’d later be very happy I chose to wear tights and a jacket. I only wish I had brought an extra buff to serve as a “tater buff” (looking at you John Anderson/ Sean Raines has made this part of his game for a long time) because I had to hike one of the later climbs with my hands stuff inside my tights. My hands weren’t what was cold. You get the picture, I’m sure. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. 

Here’s an elevation profile with Aid Station info: 

Section by Section Story of the Race

I had broken the race down into 5 sections to help manage the distance. 

Section 1:  Start- AS 3 Camping GAP 
Ryan and I ran pretty much every step of the climb to AS 2 at Petites Gap. We were running comfortably, chatting, and enjoying the miles ticking off. It was so cool to look back down the switchbacks and see the train of lights coming up behind us. Through Camping Gap Ryan and I were just about perfectly on my sub 14 hour predictions. 

Section 2: Camping Gap to AS 5 Jennings Creek
A little bit after Camping Gap, I mentioned how close we were to my planned splits for sub 14 to Ryan, and he said: Man, that’s a dream time. It wasn’t for him. On the next technical descent, he cruised off into the night. I had to let him go. I couldn’t hold that pace. We were having a blast together, but I had to stick to an effort that felt sustainable. Time started slipping away here, but I felt strong and made the choice to keep a steady effort that wouldn’t result in a bad fall in all the leaf litter. 

As I ran the ups and downs heading to Headforemost Mtn, the cold really started to settle in. I was grateful for the new tights I bought from Runabout on Thursday (Thanks, they were awesome! And Yes: I enjoy the thrill of trying something new on race day). 

But, here is where I really hit my low point for the race. One comes in every race. This one was early. It was where I had to do all the bargaining and all the thinking about WHY I’m doing this. 

Finding the why was really easy this time. Ginger and Paul were going to be at the finish. For me, the why was so easy: Set the example. WE can do hard things. 

So, I kept pushing myself to climb strong and descend smart, but fast. The “Horton Miles” were weighing on me. I was frustrated because my time predictions were spot on for where I “should” be based on distance, but not for where the actual aid stations were. I knew this might be the case. I had tried to do some conversions based on data I could find on Strava. But my guesses were wrong. And my margin for error was nothing. It was be on pace for Horton Miles or go over 14 hours.

I wasn’t on pace for the reality of the mileage on the course. I had made an error in planning what I thought I could do and what my legs could really do. But, I kept pushing. I forced myself to just keep hope alive that I might magically be able to run the last section faster than I thought. A big part of being successful in ultras (I think) is being able to ignore the numbers. If you don’t try to outrun reality, you never will. So, I did my best impression of a cartoon character who sees the ground dissipate under his feet. I kept running along thinking I might find traction in the thin, cold air. 

Section 3: AS 5 Jennings Creek to AS 7 Bearwallow Gap
I came into the first crew spot at Jennings Creek about 45 minutes after I needed to get there for sub 14. I was also badly in need of a change of clothes.

I was wet and cold. 

Luckily, I was greeted by the smiling faces of Pawel, Josh, and Brett, and Butch. They got me changed, fed, and on my way in good spirits. 

(I've never had to put on my puffy coat while changing my socks. I'm glad I did here) 

I walked out of there stuffing my face with all the food they gave me with this mantra in my head: Survive and Advance. Light Always Follows Dark. 

To be honest, I was proud that it was still dark when I left Jennings Creek. That meant I was still on pace to have a time I could be happy with. I just had to keep pushing. As I climbed the gravel road out of there, I turned off my headlamp so I could enjoy the early morning darkness and catch every ray of the first light. There were probably some pitches of that climb that I should/could have run. I was trying to measure my effort so that I would be able to run hard at the end. I maybe have left a little in the tank. Maybe. Maybe not. A lesson for next time. 

I focused on getting to Bearwallow Gap where I could pick up Josh. I kept eating and drinking and reminding myself that I was lucky to be in this race. I also kept the advice from Jordy fresh in my mind about not settling or talking myself into being happy with less than my potential. That would prove to be crucial thinking later. 

Section 4: AS 7 Bearwallow Gap to AS 9 Day Creek
I came into Bearwallow in need of another change of clothes. I wasn’t happy to lose another bit of time in an Aid Station, but it was the smart move. I had take care of my body to take care of my mind.  That meant I had to avoid the chafe monster to set myself up to run these last 20 miles hard. 

And, it’s only 20 miles from Bearwallow to the finish. Don’t get confused by all the different information out there. For this one you can actually believe Horton when he tells you it’s really only 20 miles. The “Horton Miles” really all happen before Bearwallow Gap. Brett, Pawel, and Josh got me fed, changed, and out of there without wasting too much time. And then we were off. 

Josh and I climbed strong out of Bearwallow heading towards Bobblets Gap. I kept eating and drinking and dreaming of breaking 15 hours even though the math would say it was not really possible. Cartoon character thinking is important. We got through Bobblets (AS 8) quickly. It was a grab food and go situation. Then, we suffered through the “forever” section. Aptly named because it feels like it goes on forever. You keep winding and winding. Up and down. Back and forth. You get the idea. 

I had trashed my ankle on this section pacing Brett a few years ago, so my goal was to keep it vertical. I almost managed to pull that off, but not quite. I fell twice in this section, but managed to avoid any injuries or blood. I ran everything I could run, and hiked where I was falling because of all the leaf litter that was hiding the rocks. 

Section 5: AS 9 Day Creek to the Finish: 3 up and 3 down.

Josh and I rolled into the last aid station (Day Creek), and Brett sorted me out quickly. He made me take a flask of Mountain Dew, and this was clutch. Other than the bit of food I snagged at the aid station and one more gel, this would be all I ate for the last six miles. But, it was enough.

I hiked the last climb steady if not fast. Then, I did my best Pawel impression and tried to drop Josh on the final descent. Everything hurt. Bad. But, I knew it would hurt the same if I ran fast or slow. And the faster I ran, the faster I would see Ginger and Paul. 

That was my main objective: Finish this thing strong and see my family. Here Jordy’s advice really paid off. 15 hours had come and gone. But I was still racing. I was racing myself and trying to pass anyone I could see in the distance. 

Mile 65 clocked in at 8:08 followed by a 7:09 for mile 66. I am pleased with that. I was able to snag a couple of spots I’d lost in the finishing order in the “forever” section, which was a nice bonus. But the best part: Seeing Ginger and PT when I came around the corner to the finish.

That little guy can MOVE!

It just doesn't get any better than this! 

My final time: 15:45:49

This was 1:50 slower than I my “dream” time. I had 45 minutes of non-running time. That’s far too much for a 100K. Heck, that’s more than I want in a 100 miler. The reality is that I had 30 minutes of unplanned AS time. Two lessons here: First, I should have stuck with my normal compression shorts under my tights. The insulated compression shorts I wore caused a bit of the chafing problem and I had to change twice to address that. Second, I should have managed that better and changed faster. But, that’s the cool thing about ultras: You always learn a lesson about how to get better. 

So, what do I think of Hellgate? 
It really is an amazing event. It’s small, intimate, and an awesome challenge. I knew it would be hard. But, it was harder than I thought it would be. It’s 66.6 miles and not 100, but I think you can’t try to pace it like you would any old 100K. You have to treat it with the respect of a 100 miler. I’m glad that I did. If I hadn’t let Ryan go early, I think I would have ended up blowing up in spectacular fashion. Pacing it smart allowed me to finish it strong. And, I’m happy with that. 

If you get a chance, you should do Hellgate. Horton puts on an amazing race, and he really does care about every runner out there. He makes sure first and last are taken care of equally. The aid stations are top notch, and the volunteers are amazing. Thank you all!!

Running Ultras and Living a Balanced Life

I’ve written about this before, but it’s worth saying again: Ultra running is a hobby. Just like tinkering with cars, building model trains, or fishing. Any hobby can enrich your life. You just have to be careful to strike a balance. That’s been a big goal for me since PT was born. I want to set an example for him that involves chasing dreams, doing hard things, and learning from both success and failure. For me, it’s become increasingly important to figure out how to excel at my hobby without my family wondering where I am all the time. I think I’m getting better and finding time to run while also ensuring that family time is my priority. I need to keep getting better, but Hellgate was a nice indicator that I can run a lot and still be present at home. It just means getting up early, running after bedtime, and running at lunchtime. 

Yes. Sure, I wish I had run faster. But, it was my first time at this race. I think you have to learn how to run Hellgate to run faster at Hellgate. This might seem obvious. But there are sections of the course where I think it really pays to know how they’re going to feel. So, my time was slower than I wanted, but I am quite happy with my mental game this time around. Unlike BigHorn, I never allowed myself to just be “happy” with the clock and slog it in. That’s been a challenge for me in longer races. Jordy has been encouraging me to put an entire race together at the longer distances. I think I’m getting closer to that, and I’m hoping to build on the success I had in this area at Hellbender 100 in April. 

I am eternally grateful for Ginger supporting me and helping me go chase these dreams. Having her and PT at the finish was so important to me! 

Thanks to Josh Clemmons for some expert level pacing. 

Thanks to Pawel and Brett for the crewing. 

Congrats to Sean on his first 100K finish. Proud of you, buddy! 

Thanks for reading. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Big Horn 100: 2018 “Sweet are the uses of adversity” William Shakespeare (and Alex Ezell)

This is a long one, so grab a couple cups of coffee and settle in. Spoiler alert: It’s a long one because I’ve never had to run for over 30 hours before. If you’re just looking for race beta, skim on through. I’ve made some notes at the end for you.

To really capture my experience at Big Horn 2018, I need to circle back a bit. I started running in grad school for no reason, really, other than to spend time with my friend Reeve. He and I had spent lots of time exploring the mountains in kayaks. The luster of chasing waterfalls went away for me after I had an accident, caught a bad bounce, and got away with a minor warning from the powers that be. Still, I wanted to hang out with Reeve and explore. I started following him on runs in the mountains. Through running long distances, I got to explore all I wanted with the most likely worst possible outcome being just a long, cold, night in the woods. Good deal. Then, I found running 100s when I did the first Always Brothers run back in 2011. Since then, I’ve found a great running community, started actually trying to “race” a bit, and- most importantly- started a family. A sea of change over the last decade brought me to the start line of Big Horn, but one constant has been a desire to explore both nature and my own limits.

Chris, Sean, and I took off for Wyoming on Wednesday morning. A quick pause in the race report (I know, I know I have only finished one sentence about the actual race but bear with me) is in order to thank Ginger for encouraging me to do Big Horn and making sure I knew that she and Paul would be just fine while I was gone. So, thanks! I love you.

Ok, back to the race story. We landed in Billings, drove over to Sheridan, got checked into hotel, and checked out start line for the race. Thursday was a little course recon and the normal drop bag prep, drop off and packet pick up.

Big Horn has a 10 am start, which is so civilized. Really, a Friday morning start is nice. Yup, everyone has to run into the night, but only one. And you can actually get a full night of sleep before the race. And breakfast. Go to Bagels and Beyond. We did. Every day. That place is amazing!

The race brief was at 8 am. We heard about some course details, hung out, and then took the shuttle to the start.

It was all very well organized in terms of transportation. The only bummer was that it was hard to tell where the front of the pack was because the whole field was choked in this canyon.

 I was psyched to be running with my friend Bryan Jennings from NC. Bryan is an awesome guy, a great athlete, and someone I’ve known and admired since the old kayaking days. Bryan and I ended up lined up pretty far back in the field and we spent the first 7 or 8 miles in a conga line that was moving pretty slowly up the mountain. No matter, though, it’s a 100 miler and saving a little energy at the start was fine by me. And Bryan was cool with it as well. We just passed the time catching up, sharing thoughts about our motivations and friends we miss, and just generally enjoying the time to be together. I also took the chance to pick his brain on being a good dad- since he has a little more experience than I do in that area.  

The first climb from the start to Dry Fork Ridge Outound (13.5) was smooth and easy. I did develop some hot spots on both heels, which was odd for me. I rarely have blister problems.  I had made the mistake of talking about this before the race, so I’m sure this was just karma coming at me like a spider monkey.

Other than, Karma, I’m not sure what the problem was since the course was dry at this point, but I changed socks on the side of the trail and just kept rolling. The weather was cool and cloudy. Not bad at all. I chased back easily once I had changed socks since we were at the top of the ridge and off the narrow single track. I caught up with Bryan and we cruised into Dry Fork, grabbed food, filled bottles, and rolled on out. I was still pretty optimistic about going sub 24 even though we lost a little time in the conga line. I figured- hey, it’s energy in the bank.

We kept rolling along and chatting through Cow Camp (19.5) as the weather started looking a bit sketchy. Bryan had to stop to answer nature’s call a few minutes later, so we separated. Then, the thunder, lightning, and hail joined the party. The hail got pretty rough for a few minutes, so I ducked under some bushes and pulled out my jacket to keep me warm and ease the sting of the marbles hitting my head and arms. But, I got moving quickly again because I didn’t want to get cold or expose myself to the storm (lightning) and longer than necessary. Getting through the meadow and Bear Camp (26.5) and down “the wall” to Sally’s Footbridge (30) was the smart play. So, I kept moving. The weather had already turned the trail going down the wall to a muddy, slick mess. I ran down joking with a few people about the conditions.

I came into Footbridge (30) about 1.5 hours slower than I was hoping. But, I had only lost a little time in the second section, and I was sure I could make it up. Even still, I had figured a little cushion in my sub 24 pace plan and would have been stoked with 25 or even 26 hours anyway. I was picking up Chris here, and he is always great at keeping me moving. Given the mud situation and the developing blisters, I decided to take a little time to get dressed for the weather that had arrived and tend to my feet. The stop was a little extended (25 minutes or so), but time well spent. I cleaned my socks, put on fresh clothes, and off we went.

The first 7-8 miles from Footbridge to Spring Marsh were actually great. It just rained off and on a little. In our normal fashion, Chris and I just kept cranking and enjoying the scenery.

There were some really fun, sketchy bridges to cross and the footing was pretty good.

I was still SURE we’d be back at Footbridge by 2 am, and sub 24 or 25 was a real possibility. The mud didn’t return until we went through Spring Marsh (40). Then, things got REAL. Like ,really real. The 8 miles (9 by most counts) from Spring Marsh to the turnaround at JAWS (mile 48ish) was a muddy slip and slide. A lot like, as Kirby said later about “the wall”, running on Vaseline.

We actually didn’t get into JAWS until 11:30. 11:30 pm. 13.5 hours after the start. It was raining. I was cold, muddy, and hungry. So, we took more time than I would have liked here too. The volunteers were great and the tent was like a warm MASH unit.

I knew that sub 24 was out the window and the only way to ensure a finish would be to get warm and dressed for the race we were having, which was going to be impeded by mud that was not allowing much actual running. So, we spent 30 minutes getting me into a warm base layer and dry jacket. Then, we took off into the night.

The return from JAWS to Sally’s Footbridge was just a slog. Every time I tried to get rolling in the muck, I fell or nearly fell. Once, I even went headfirst into a tree. I told Chris, “I don’t have a concussion.” He said, “well, that’s good. It wouldn’t matter anyway. You’d just have to walk out of here with it.” I laughed. He laughed. We kept looking for chances to run and make up some time. There weren’t many.

We came into Footbridge at 6:30 am. Let that sink in. 6.5 hours to go 18 miles. Mostly downhill. What the hell?! How is that even possible? I don’t know if the mud created some kind of time warp or something. But that’s what it took. And, it wasn’t like we were just giving up and slogging. I was still trying to salvage a decent time for the race. Chris took my shoes to wash them off and then happily handed me off to Kirby and Sean who got me cleaned up, fed, and ready to bring this thing home.

Sean and I took off up “the wall” around 7:00. Let THAT sink in. 6 hours slower than I’d planned. And we were only 66 miles into the race.

But, at this point I was not worried about the clock anymore. Of course, I had come out the race hoping for the “perfect” day I would need to run sub 24 on this course. I trained hard. I was ready. But, it didn’t happen. I was OK with that.

The weather was the weather. The course was the course. I had also come out wanting an adventure, wanting to get back in touch with why I started doing these long runs/races anyway. Mother nature was giving me that chance, I was into it. Let’s party, Mama N.

Don’t get me wrong. I was disappointed. I was cold. My feet were shredded from the mud. It sucked. I was suffering. I actually had to wash my bib off, so the AS captains could read it.

But it was an agreeable suffering, which is a concept that Kirby called me one day a while ago to chat about when he came across it in a mountaineering book. It was the good kind tribulation. The kind where you’re doing something you love, but you are just laid bare. You have one task and keeping up any pretense just isn’t possible. Neither is avoiding your reality. I’m lucky to have chances like this. Most people never do, and I think we can all benefit from that kind of self-study. You have lots of time to think about who you are, what you do,  why you do it, and if you’re really living. I am. And, I am eternally grateful for that.

So, Sean and I charged up “the wall”—by “charge” I mean: We dug our poles into ground and pulled ourselves up with our arms while our feet kept slipping out from under us. The rain came and went. The mud stayed. Averaging 30 to 35-minute miles up the mountain, I did actually start worrying about the clock. Sean, I’m sure, was worrying too. But, he kept quiet about it and just entertained me with crewing stories from the night.

We had fun laughing at our plight. But, inside I was stressed. Even with hours in the bank ahead of the cut offs, they could become a problem if we could not get back on a decent pace. I had invested way too much time training, heart, and time away from Ginger and PT to not get a finish at this race. I wasn’t going to let that happen. I owed it to myself, my crew, and most importantly my family to finish.

Things went this way—pushing as hard possible and using our poles to climb as our shoes betrayed us—for a couple of hours. Somewhere between Bear Camp (69.5) and Cow Camp (76.5) the footing got better. Tired but motivated, I pushed the pace to claw back some of the time we’d lost. Sean, kept me laughing and kept laughing AT me as a I fell face down in the mud a couple of times. Then sun even started to come out.

We came into Dry Fork Ridge Inbound (82.5) tired, but in good spirits. We had passed a ton of people between Cow Camp and Dry Fork. But, to be honest, I was no longer racing. And, I was very happy about it. The climb out of the canyon, the weather, the hours and hours, and the opportunity to reflect helped me find some real happiness in the situation. Here I was in the beautiful mountains with one of the best friends anyone can have. Sure, we could push it, charge over the final climb, and bomb that last 18 miles to the finish. In spite of it all, my legs felt pretty strong. But there was always the reality that my body could just say: ENOUGH and cramp up. The good option was to just enjoy the journey. Sean was cool with it. So, we did.

Yes, it sucked. Yes. It was one of those times when it hurts to walk almost as much as it hurts to run (in those cases, you should generally just run). But, we just alternated jogging and walking as we enjoyed the views that finally came out as the fog burned off. Sean kept me laughing and when there was some stuff we really should run (Upper Sheep- 87.5 to Lower Sheep 92.5), we ran. But mostly, we just talked about how lucky we were (while I also thought- a few times- that I’d be lucky when this was over ha ha ha).

At some point, Sean realized that sun was strong and the few places we had not covered by mud were about to get fried. We had no sunscreen with us, but we both had Chapstick. Chapstick is a pretty good substitute. Good call, Sean.

Between Lower Sheep (92.5) and Tongue River (94.8) Bryan came flying up from behind with Kirby on his heels pacing him. I’d last seen Bryan as I was leaving Footbridge Outbound (30). He looked so good now. He was running so smoothly. My spirits soared. I was so happy for him. He was cruising. I even got motivated for a minute and gave chase. That lasted about 35 steps, and then I was happy to go back to just taking my time to get to the finish. And that’s what we did.

Sean and I walked nearly every step of the last 5 miles on the gravel roads to town. With 2 miles left I pulled out my phone, turned it on, and called Ginger. We chatted for a few minutes, and I got to hear about how things were going back home. Ginger and Paul had a big day hanging out at Eastern Divide (congrats to everyone who ran Eastern Divide this weekend!). Then, Sean and I strolled into town eating popsicles. It was pretty sweet.

I sauntered into the finish line gratefully accepting the cheers of what seemed like the whole town. 33 hours and 11 minutes. 100 miles. 18,000 feet of climbing (or so). The longest it’s taken me to run one of these, and surely the hardest I have worked to cover the distance. All totally worth it.

Not for the buckle. 

I mean It IS sweet a sweet buckle, but adversity is a great teacher. If nothing else, it makes you grateful for the easy lives we lead. I’m certainly ready to focus on running shorter (relatively) races for a while (until next summer at least), but I did reconnect with my love of these grand adventures.

Thank you, Bryan for sharing those first 22 miles and this experience with me. I am so happy for you and proud of you.

Sean and Chris, what can I say? You guys are the most amazing friends and crew anyone can have. I am looking forward to returning the favor. I love you both.

Kirby, it was so fun to have you there. Thanks for taking care of Bryan. Can’t wait to see you again.

Ginger, thank you so much for the love and support and making it possible for me to have these experiences. I miss you and that boy terribly when I’m gone, but I think I return from these journeys a better husband and father. I love you!

Reeve, this is all your fault anyway, so thanks for getting me into all this. When are you going to be dumb enough to do one of these? I. Will. Be. There.

Things you need to know if you’re thinking of doing Big Horn, especially if you’re from the BEAST Coast: 

  • The RD and volunteers are AMAZING! The whole area supports this race. Aid stations were staffed by people from all over the region- even Montana, and they were amazing.
  • Crewing is HARD at Big Horn. I only used crew at Footbridge (30/66). It’s a lot of driving to go anywhere else, and you don’t really need crew elsewhere. The volunteers will take great care of you. Take care of them by not overloading aid stations. You can get by with drop bags no problem and just have crew at Footbridge. It’s a great pacer situation to pick up and swap them there.
  • This is a Hardrock qualifier for a reason. There may be (there was for me) hail, lightning, heat, cold, rain, and lots of mud. Bring all the gear, and don’t leave Footbridge (30) without lights and cold weather gear. Even if you think you’ll get to Jaws (48) before dark. I thought I was a shoe-in to get to JAWS before dark. I was on pace to do so before the mud. I didn’t. I’m glad I was prepared for the reality of what came.
  • If it rains, the course will be a mess. You will lose tons of time in the mud. Run the first half smart but build yourself a cushion in case the course gets bad. Lots of folks got cut off because they were running without any cushion.
  • I thought it’d be a bunch of buff single track since it was a Western Race. Without the mud, it would have been. You can’t count on that, though.
  • The course is beautiful, and the climbs are long, but not too hard. The “wall” (67) leaving Footbridge Inbound was the only climb that was brutal. The rest were super fun.
  • Don’t sweat the altitude. You spend most of the time in the 5-7K foot range, and it acts as a nice governor, but won’t cause most folks problems. I didn’t really feel it at all other than just going a little slower than normal at times.

Gear for those who are interested:

  • Poles. Don’t leave home without them. (Black Diamond Z poles- old aluminum ones)
  • Hoka Speedgoat 2 (Shredded by the mud and in the trash at the end). In hindsight, the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor would have been a better choice.
  • 7 or 8 pairs of socks (Farm to Feet and Smartwool)
  • Shorts (Strider Pro)
  • 2 jackets (Houdini and Salomon)
  • Hat
  • Ultimate direction Vest (AK Mtn Vest 2.0)
  • Gloves
  • More gels than I’m willing to admit publicly. Josh Starner would be amazed. Thanks to Backcountry.com for hooking me up with a care package of gels and Honey Stinger waffles. They were crucial.

Big thanks to all the folks from the Big Horn Trail Run Crew. You guys are awesome!!! 

Link to the Strava data, which is missing some time a little miles because I got behind on charging my watch twice near the end: